Quick Tree Watercolor Demo

This was a quick watercolor demo that I did for my beginning drawing and watercolor students. It shows how to approach painting a tree, a complex subject, in watercolor.

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First, I did a rough sketch on the paper and laid in a very light blue wash, which is not very visible in this photo.

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Next I covered all of the tree and grass with a yellow wash, leaving room for some negative spaces in the tree where the sky will show through. My reason for using a yellow is this: Highlights on the leaves can be yellow, and all of the lights and shadows can contain yellow because tree leaves are green. Using yellow on this layer will allow me to use negative shapes to complete the painting, so that I will be filling in the spaces between leaves rather than painting individual leaves.

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Next I laid in a shadow color that is kind of a cool brown. Note that I moved very quickly with this demo, and simply wiggled my brush around to create a leafy effect. I also included a few branch type shapes.

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Now for the color! I started with a very yellow green, again wiggling my brush to create an effect. I left plenty of yellow spaces for highligjhted leaves, knowing I can come back later to make the yellow areas smaller if needed. After using the yellow-green color, I made a slightly darker, slightly bluer green for a sort of 'half tone' between the yellow-green and the shadows. You can see a little of it on the left side.

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Here is where I stopped my demo. I left the right hand side unfinished so that my students could see the different colors of the layers. To 'finish' the left side, I continued with the green-blue half tone, added some bluer hues in the shadow for variety, and also added a slightly darker blue just on top for the sky. This is a little more realistic (daytime clear skies tend to be bluer at the top and more pale toward the horizon) but also helps the tree appear to come forward.

Another Beginning Drawing and Intro to Watercolors class will start Wednesday nights at Tomahawk Ridge Community Center in Overland Park on September 10th. Follow this link for more info: http://www.opkansas.org/things-to-see-and-do/classes-programs-and-leagues/adult-painting-classes/